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Speech to welcome athletes returning from London Olympics, Sydney

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Thank you Alan, and there’s really only one thing to say. Welcome home!

We’re all here in a spirit of joy and celebration to say we are so proud of you, welcome home.

We want you to be back in the warm embrace of the Australian nation and your family and friends.

So it’s a tremendous opportunity to be here to share this moment.

You’ve only been gone a few weeks but it’s been so vivid, each of those exciting days. It probably seems to many of you like it’s a lifetime.

Some, like Malcolm Page, have capped a brilliant career with gold, and he’s being welcomed back in fine style by his family here including young Alex, holding up his sign, welcoming his uncle back.

Others, like Brittany Broben, won unexpected honours and congratulations to her - such a young woman, such a fine achievement.

And yet others almost reached the top of that mountain only to find that there’s another summit for them to climb.

But no matter what medal you’re wearing around your neck today, or whether you’re not wearing a medal at all, you are carrying the greatest of honours.

You’re Olympians.

That’s members of the elite band that was founded by Edwin Flack in 1896.

What an amazing thing, to have the opportunity to go to the Olympics and to represent your nation.

We’re proud of each and every one of you.

Each of you is able to say something none of the rest of us will ever be able to say.

You’ll be able to say, ‘I was there. I wore the green and gold.’

Others will admire or envy you, they’ll listen to your stories, they’ll read of your triumphs and disappointments, but only you will ever know what it was like to actually be there.

And for those who have been quick to rush out with the criticism, London in 2012 has been a remarkable result by any measure.

Tenth on the medal tally out of 204.

Our nation, still in the top ten.

Still fighting, still striving, still challenging the world and proudly doing it.

So as you get to move back home, whether Sydney’s your home or you’re on an onward journey today, I want to say to each and every one of our athletes thank you for your efforts, thank you for your sacrifices, thank you for all the perseverance and discipline that got you there.

You’ve given something incredibly special to your country.

And to those with dreams and ambitions still to be fulfilled, have a good rest and then get straight back to the training.

You did great things in London in 2012, and I know you’re going to do even greater things in Rio in four years’ time.

Welcome home, one and all. It’s an absolute delight to be with you this morning.

Thank you very much.